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Posts Tagged ‘E-17’

A Worthy Alternative to Gnome 3 and Unity

I’m back with a few opinions about the world of Linux and specifically the controversial state of desktop/window managers.

As anyone who knows anything about Linux is no doubt familiar, the state of Linux for average desktop users has been changing a lot since Ubuntu 11.04 came out in April. Instead of Gnome 3 Shell, or Gnome 2.3; Ubuntu now uses the Unity desktop interface. Many people like it, but many people also dislike it in its present state of development. It may have been released a bit prematurely, but I imagine Unity and its ability for customization will improve greatly when Ubuntu 11.10 comes out, and in the coming years.

The other big change, of course, is the total redesign of Gnome 3. I’m not too crazy either about the current state of Gnome 3. Like Unity, its slick and pretty, but it’s lacking in user customization options and its system settings are very limited compared to the stable, versatile and familiar Gnome 2.3 that we’ve used for years. And like Unity, I’m sure it will evolve over the coming years to be much more usable.

However for those of us who don’t want to wait years, or may never find Unity or Gnome Shell our ‘cup of tea’, I’ve been looking around for a better alternative to Gnome. Because unfortunately, unless someone decides to make a fork of their own to continue development of Gnome 2, all the Linux distros that currently still use Gnome 2 (Linux Mint standard edition, ZorinOS, Pinguy, etc, etc…) will eventually have to abandon Gnome 2 for Gnome 3, if my understanding is correct. That’s when I stumbled upon this insightful article, which talks about the latest version of Linux Mint using the Xfce desktop manager.

I’ve tried Xfce before and like it the best of all the ‘lighter’ desktop managers for Linux. Still, it was not as customizable or easy to use as Gnome. But (after reading the article) I’ve just tried out the latest Live CD of Mint Xfce, and I’m very impressed! At least Mint’s version is way better looking, has more features and many more configuration options than the ‘old’ Xfce. In fact, after playing with it for over an hour on our main computer I’d say this is a great alternative to Gnome, and it uses less power and RAM. Running Mint Xfce from the CD was lightning fast! It looks good, gives the user choices, and I’m becoming rather fond of the Xfce ‘Thunar’ file manager. And Mint Xfce is now Debian-based so it’s a rolling release. Pictured is my Mint Xfce desktop (with my own desktop picture I added) from the Live CD session. I’m sure development on Xfce will be even better in the future as some/many Linux users turn from Gnome 3/Unity to other options. But for all the details I would suggest checking out the blog article link above.

For another alternative desktop manager to Gnome there’s always KDE. For a years since I discovered Linux I’ve tried to like the K Desktop Manager, but I still don’t! I recently tried out the Pardus Linux Live CD, which I’ve read has a really nice implementation of KDE. And it does! KDE looks beautiful, but I still find it overly complex and flashy to the point where it gets in my way. Just my opinion, but after installing Pardus and using it for a brief time, I felt frustrated and somehow claustrophobic and had to return to my beloved Linux Mint Gnome distro, which is easy to configure and stays out of my face; OR, my other¬† favorite distro that I would recommend, Bodhi Linux, which uses Enlightenment (E-17).¬† Enlightenment takes some time to learn, because there are many settings options. But I find it easier to use than KDE.

I think Xfce or Enlightenment are both worthy alternatives for all you Gnome fans out there. I love Bodhi because it’s very customizable (I use that word a lot!), light like Xfce and beautiful without sacrificing on performance. In fact, I’m thinking that with all the new development around E-17 (thanks to Bodhi) the Enlightenment desktop and applications will see much growth in the future.

As someone commented on this post, LXDE is also another Linux desktop manager that is comparable and belongs in the top 3 alternatives to Gnome/Unity/KDE. Very similar to Xfce, it’s also lightweight and runs well on older hardware.

So there are still some great choices for Linux users! And isn’t that what Linux is all about?

Update March 17, 2012: I’ve decided to create a new blog here on WordPress strictly dealing with Linux and Open Source Software for the average desktop computer user. Please check it out at: TheFearlessPenguin. Thanks!

Some great Linux Enlightenment distros for your consideration… and a last word about bacon

January 28, 2011 11 comments

Today I’d like to talk about some nice Linux-based operating systems that use the Enlightenment desktop environment. But first, I have to share an interesting bit of synchronicity I stumbled upon just now. A couple of days ago I mentioned several ways I am coping with winter depression and I happened to mention bacon. So I opened my web browser just now to NPR news and there was This Story staring me in the face. Never underestimate the strangeness of the Universe, or the power of Bacon!

But getting back to Linux, one of the best and maybe worst things about Gnu/Linux-based operating systems (distros) is the insane amount of choice that one has about the GUI (Graphical User Interface) and which desktop environment/window manager you can use to interact with your system. There are hundreds of Linux distros available that cost nothing to download and use to run your computer with. And there are many choices of GUI managers you can use. The most popular distros come with GNOME, KDE, XFCE, Openbox, LXDE, and Fluxbox. The last four here mentioned are becoming more popular because they are more light-weight (use less system resources, less RAM, so they work great on older computers/netbooks than GNOME or KDE). But there’s also another one that’s been around for a while called Enlightenment. For the past few years it seems like there hasn’t been much development going on with the Enlightenment Project, but recently I’ve seen a few new distros and some well-established ones that use the Enlightenment desktop. The version now in use, E-17, is pretty neat because it is very light on system resources, yet has a beautiful look (eye-candy) and is quick and responsive on a variety of hardware.

Before continuing, I need to mention that if you’re a Windows or Mac user who has little or no experience using Linux, I probably would not recommend jumping straight away into a distro that’s based on E-17. A year and a half ago the first Enlightenment Linux OS I used was MoonOS. I installed it on our older laptop and used it for many months. It was great, but Enlightenment is a little more complex to learn how to configure than GNOME or KDE. It took a few hours of mucking around to discover how incredibly customizable Enlightenment is. It was fun, but maybe a little confusing for a Linux newbie. For anyone just trying out Linux, I would highly recommend Linux Mint or Pinguy OS for total out-of-the-box ease of use.

But back to Enlightenment; there are two distros I’d like to mention today. I haven’t installed either of them on any of our computers yet, but from trying them out from the Live CDs I’ve been really impressed. They both run very well just from booting from CD. And those two are PCLinuxOS-E-17 and a new kid on the block, Bodhi Linux.

PCLinuxOS has a large international user base, is very pleasurable to use and comes in many different flavors: GNOME, KDE, XFCE, LXDE, Openbox and a really sweet Enlightenment version. There are many different ways to set up E-17, and the basic configuration of PCLinuxOS E-17 is beautiful, from the cool sunrise boot screen to the nice assortment of pre-installed applications. I’ve seriously considered installing it, but then in the last couple of months another Enlightenment contender has burst onto the scene: Bodhi Linux.

Bodhi was created by Jeff Hoogland, a guy who has a blog called Thoughts on Technology that I like and who first introduced me to Pinguy OS. He started making his own Enlightenment distro based on Ubuntu just a few months ago, and though it’s still in beta it’s pretty nice. Bodhi is meant to be a minimalist distro with just a few basic apps (like Firefox) pre-installed, so the user can start with the sleek E-17 base and add what you want. A neat thing about Bodhi is it already has its own software page where you can easily install applications and utilities, or you can use ‘apt-get ‘in the Terminal or Synaptic Package Manager as in regular Ubuntu. And Bodhi also has its own repositories. Several new people have recently joined the project, and development is moving along briskly. The first Release Candidate of Bodhi Linux (1.5) will be out on January 30th. There is also a handy link on the website with tutorials on configuring Enlightenment, which is a great idea for those unfamiliar with E-17. Bodhi just gets better and better.

Here are some more links. Check out Enlightenment!

Distro Hoppin`: A Sneak Peek at Bodhi Linux RC

PCLinuxOS: E-17 Desktop

Enlightenment User Guide

Update March 17, 2012: I’ve decided to create a new blog here on WordPress strictly dealing with Linux and Open Source Software for the average desktop computer user. Please check it out at: TheFearlessPenguin. Thanks!

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